In a prior blog post I mentioned how much Luka loves to run. I bought an attachment for my bike that allows him to run next to me while remaining tethered to the bike and quickly discovered that he also likes to pull. After a short while, however, I grew uncomfortable with my setup. First of all I felt like that huge bike tire spinning around (it is taller than Luka) just a couple of feet away from his head was an accident waiting to happen no matter how cautious I was. Secondly I felt like I couldn’t hop on or off the bike quickly if the situation warranted it, such as an off-leash dog approaching. Finally I didn’t like where it positioned me – sitting on the seat I’m pretty far above Luka’s head and we can’t make eye contact.
So I did a little research and discovered that they make scooters for adults. – why should the kids have all the fun with their Razors? A Scooter seemed like a good alternative with smaller wheels, being low to the ground, and easy to step on/off.
I’m not the first one with this idea. Indeed there’s a bunch of people who use a tug line – the same kind used for sled dogs – to attach one or more dogs to the front of their scooter to stay in shape during the summer (and for fun). I gave this a try as you can see in this short video:
This was loads of fun but it, too, had some problems. With Luka out in front, he was pretty much in charge of where we went. I taught him the mushing commands for left and right (haw and gee) but “whoa” just didn’t seem to be in his vocabulary. Fortunately the scooter has excellent brakes! I also didn’t like being so far away from him. When we are walking I like the fact that I can see his face and can notice where his attention is focused. Likewise I like his being able to check in with me visually from time to time.
Then I discovered The Dog Powered Scooter. It seemed like the perfect solution since it brought Luka back next to me rather than way out in front. The original design uses a L-shaped bar like an outrigger under which your dog is tethered to the harness attachments from both sides. This ended up not working very well for Luka as he really didn’t like being under the outrigger and he liked even less being constrained by harness attachments on either side of him.
So I merged some parts from my bike attachment and came up with this: Photo courtesy Tyler Trahan
I’m using the footplate and vertical bar from the Dog Scooter kit and the horizontal spring-loaded harness attachment from my bike rig. This puts Luka right next to me – exactly the position he is in when we are walking. I bought a special harness designed for sled dogs that distributes the weight more evenly over his whole body. And it all fits in the back seat of my Honda Fit hatchback so I can bring it to work for mid-day scoots through the park.
I can’t tell you how much fun this is. Luka does most of the work on flat ground and I pitch in on hills or when he gets tired. He ignores most of the many distractions that we pass by such as barking dogs, pee-mail messages left by other dogs on tree trunks, and (drum roll here) even squirrels. If I think he really wants to take a break during our scoot and have a good sniff, I simply step off the scooter and the quick-release attachment comes off in less than a second. Luka can then enjoy the cornucopia of smells that surely fill his dreams. I haven’t gotten verbal confirmation from Luka but judging from his enthusiastic whole-butt-wagging when he sees me getting the scooter ready I think he likes it too!
Here we are scooting along the sidewalk in our neighborhood. (Thanks to my two-son film crew, Josh and Tyler.)